HD Goodies: Pursuing the Digital


In the wake of the major announcement made at the NAB Show recently about HD Radio, it is only appropriate to take a look at some of the fun new end user gadgets for bringing it into our homes. With that in mind, I’d like to point you towards Gary Krakow’s recent personal tech column on The Street, where he waxes eloquent on the subject. First he talks about HD sound quality:

HD stations sound different from their analog relatives. There is usually less background noise and much less interference that can be heard. That’s because the receiver “locks in” on the station’s digital component. In simple terms, just like digital TV broadcasts, a digital signal is either good or bad, on or off. If it’s not tuned in properly, it’s usually not enjoyable at all.

That said, digital HD radio signals can be more difficult to receive than their analog counterparts. Many listeners complain that they can receive their favorite FM station — but can’t “lock in” on the digital signal.

On the other hand, I live near WFUV-FM from Fordham University in the Bronx, which I cannot listen to at home because of interference. But, with an HD Radio tuner, it’s received perfectly.

After some background for those unfamiliar with the medium, he proceeds to take a look at some of the best new consumer electronics available for HD enthusiasts.

Of the Sangean HDT-1X he says:

Sangean makes all kinds of radios, not only under its own name, but also for other well-known brands. This AM-FM tuner is actually the company’s second try at an affordable HD tuner. The first, the HDT-1 (no X) was well received. But audiophiles — and specifically tuner-philes — played with the tuner and emphatically told Sangean what they liked and didn’t like.

Sangean actually listened.

He then goes on to detail the various improvements made to this model before he reviews the Rotel RT-1084, which he describes as a huge step upwards:

In addition to the big step-up in price, the Rotel provides listeners with a huge increase in perceived quality. The Rotel is a beautiful piece of audio jewelry, as well as a great-sounding tuner.

There’s less of a difference in sound quality between the analog and digital versions of the same station when you’re listening on the Rotel. In addition, this tuner seemed to have an easier time of locking-in on a digital signal.

Finally, he levies his opinion on the new DaySequerra M4C:

David Day is the undisputable king of FM tuners. He is the Day of DaySequerra, manufacturers of what some experts consider one of the best (and expensive) FM tuners ever made.

These days David is a big proponent of HD Radio. His company makes nearly all of the HD tuners that FM radio stations use to monitor their output. Therefore, David knows how good HD Radio can sound.

[…] As you might guess, the M4C is one heck of a tuner. I haven’t actually played with the latest ungraded version, but the version I had sounded direct, forceful and produced a lot of very high-quality radio playback.

In this group of HD tuners, the DaySequerra produced the least difference between similar analog and digital radio signals — a testament to David’s continuing quest for great FM sound. Very highly recommended.

Go take a look at his column and see the complete reviews and more info on these items.

Lots of new gear is debuting, and there will, be much, much more soon. Between the advances made on the industry side and the advances in home/auto technology, I think that 2008 will be a benchmark year for radio in general and HD in particular.

Come on everybody, tune in!

Photo courtesy of vitelone, used under its Creative Commons license


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6 Responses to “HD Goodies: Pursuing the Digital”

  1. Jeffory Simmons Says:

    HD seems destined to fail. Why not advocate webradio as opposed to corporate technology? HD equip costs may have fallen, but it will never be as affordable community set ups with computers. love the blog.

  2. George Williams Says:

    Actually what this blog advocates covers a wide spectrum. The bottom line is that it is all about radio as it evolves into the 21st century. Web radio is part of that overall picture, but my mandate here is to look at the tech (and other issues) as they impact broadcast radio.

    As to the choice between web radio and HD, that would depend entirely on the needs of the person/company/entity investing the funds. Personally I look forward to seeing how everything plays out now that new and less expensive hardware options are now on the table. You should see some of the stuff that came out at the NAB Show (And you will, there is a series of posts on the way interviewing some of the movers and shakers that I had the pleasure of meeting out there).

    Glad you’re enjoying the blog, stop on by anytime!

  3. PocketRadio Says:

    HD/IBOC jams on both AM and FM, and suffers from dropouts, poor coverage, and interference. Consumers have zero interest in this farce:


  4. Jeffory Simmons Says:

    HD is just very frustrating technology to me, thanks for understanding. It’s already failed in Europe after 10 years of testing, and huge corps like CBS(Time Warner) finally decide to do a “DAB” push now? For all the advantages of DAB/HD, the way these corps have “rolled it out” is manipulative and money-driven.

    I was referring to cost of starting your own station when i was talking about equipment, web radio has just as many fabulous products that continue to be made for the listener.

    i need more sleep i’m not making sense. :)

  5. George Williams Says:

    Jeffory, I see all of these as different aspects of the same overall picture. It’s a lot lot going to Baskin and Robbins, its all ice cream but you have 31 different flavors to choose from. Web radio, HD, and the others are all “ice cream,” just different flavors. That is the perspective from which I write.

    The overall picture can be confusing and frustrating at times, agreed. That is true of any situation as complex as radio is right now. Growth is often perceived as painful. My purpose is to shine a light on the positive and look at both the amazing steps forward technologically while demonstrating why I think radio is still relevant in the 21st Century.

    Yes, I work on contract for the NAB, RAB, and HD Radio Alliance. That is a matter of record and noted on the “About” page of this blog. The reason that I work for them on this project is because I believe in it.

    Radio is still the best way to reach across the digital divide and reach that (still large) portion of the world that has no access or desire to use the Internet. I had this demonstrated to me when I returned to New Orleans after Katrina and the failure of the levees. There was no internet, no functioning cell phone towers, and in many places no functioning landlines. What there was was radio. Radio helped me find safe drinking water. Radio helped me find the National Guard. Radio gave me an awareness of what was happening in the city beyond the few blocks of devastation around me.

  6. George Williams Says:


    This site is not an HD Radio discussion site, we believe in encouraging all new radio technology and we respect the fact that new technology isn’t always easy to implement.

    There was a time when people ridiculed internet companies because 1440 modems were slow. We applaud people willing to invest to try new things and encourage the industry not
    just to stay with tried and true.

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